The Tlaroi are a race of sentient, omnivorous creatures superficially resembling large ants or termites. Their body is strongly segmented and they have three pairs of limbs. The lowest is a pair of strong legs, and the middle and upper ones are both used for manipulation. The lower arms are much stronger than the upper ones but less nimble. The head is wedge-shaped and sports powerful mandibles, two pairs of delicate antennae, and two multi-faceted eyes which are the Tlaroi's primary sensory organs.
Individual Tlaroi vary in height from 1.5 to 2.5 meters, with adult size heavily depending on sex and caste. The sexes differ greatly both physically and mentally. Males outnumber females approximately 1000:1 and are the workers and soldiers of the species. Some of them also become priests and perform minor religious and administrative duties. Females are generally quite a bit larger than males and much more intelligent. They are the rulers, high priests, sorcerers and military commanders of the species.
A nuclear Tlaroi society centers around the only female which produces offspring, i.e. the queen. The eggs she continually produces are cared for by workers and priests. Her reproductive function forces the queen to be stationary but does not keep her from effectively ruling her people. A Tlaroi queen will stop laying eggs and take action herself only in extreme emergencies.
The physical development of a Tlaroi depends on the caste he or she is assigned to at birth. Depending on the needs of society Tlaroi larvae are fed specialized diets that prompt their development into a specified direction. Therefore size, strength, dexterity and intelligence will develop depending on the future function of the individual within Tlaroi society.
A Tlaroi state is very strictly organized both horizontally and vertically. Each Tlaroi, male or female, belongs to one of the three caste, and occupies a specific role in this caste's hierarchy. A female that leaves Tlaroi society will be able to function for a while, perhaps even forming her own state if she has not been sterilized, but a male will quickly perish if he loses his social context.
The largest caste is that of the workers which consists almost exclusively of males. Workers are large and strong, but hardly intelligent in human terms. They do their assigned duties diligently and without complain, but without direction and supervision they are very limited in their abilities. A few females belong to the worker caste and function as supervisors, go-betweens to the priest caste, and highly skilled artisans.
The soldier caste originally defended its state against outside threats and secured control of important resources. Since the Tlaroi began to make war among their kind and with other species, the soldiers have become more and more important as they are needed to conquer and defend new territories. Male soldiers may become quite intelligent and independent, but the highest ranks of the military hierarchy are reserved for females which are much better at tactics and especially strategy.
The priest caste serves both religious and administrative functions. Priests work as planners, architects, traders, diplomats and in a great number of additional roles. Even females who are artists, spies or performers are counted as belonging to this caste. Male priests usually have a fairly high autonomy and function quite well without supervision.
Male and female Tlaroi have very different mindsets. Males are completely obedient and loyal to their mothers, i.e. the queen of their state. They are genetically unable to even consider putting their personal gain above that of their state. This disposition makes them extremely reliable subjects, but it goes hand in hand with a mental rigidity and lack of independence that makes them unsuited to most leadership roles. Females on the other hand are creative, intelligent and independent, but lack the males' inbuilt loyalty. Quite to the contrary - if given the chance, they tend to strike out on their own and found a new state, as theoretically each female Tlaroi can become a queen herself.
As a result Tlaroi states have to achieve a careful balance between enough female members to provide enough effective leadership and not too many of them, lest they destabilize their society. Tlaroi states usually lessen the females' impulse to leave society by sterilizing them. Only a few fertile females are kept and raised as possible successors for the queen.
As far as they consider such things, Tlaroi tend to view other species as either competitors that need to be eliminated or as useful subjects which can be exploited. This attitude has made the Tlaroian empire an extremely expansionistic state.
According to legend the Tlaroi were created by the sun goddess Amachtera several thousand years ago as her personal subjects. Records of their early history are virtually non-existent among humans, and the Tlaroi do not share their own myths and stories.
The Tlaroi survived the Second Coming of the Ice King in their subterranean hives and emerged long before humans became powerful again. They warred among themselves until one especially gifted queen managed to unite all Tlaroi under her rule. She founded the Tlaroian empire, which grew to become the most powerful state in all of Jhendor.
For more information see the Timeline of the Tlaroi Empire.
Worship of Amachtera is unanimous among Tlaroi. They still regard her as their original mother and sole protector, showing hardly any regard for other gods. Only the occasional renegade female might follow a foreign cult. The Tlaroian Empress, the Chélek, is widely regarded as an avatar of the sun goddess, even among many humans.
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